Local Control

Local Housing Politicies Across California

Published: 2018 | Sarah Mawhorter and Carolina Reid | Terner Center for Housing Innovation


In order to better understand how local policies affect housing supply, the Terner Center conducted a residential land use survey in California from August 2017 to October 2018. In total, 252 incorporated places and 19 unincorporated county areas in California responded to a range of questions on local zoning, approval processes, affordable housing policies, and rental regulations. These initial results show the complexity and diversity of land use laws across the state, and suggest some of the policy barriers that hinder the production of new housing in California. By publishing the results of this survey, we hope to generate discussion on how local policies – including zoning more land for multifamily housing, implementing local inclusionary policies where feasible to get the most out of state density bonus law, and wider consideration of just cause eviction and rent conversion ordinances – can help to solve the affordable housing crisis. This descriptive analysis also points to directions for more in-depth research and analysis to understand how local policies and practices can encourage housing development—both affordable and market-rate—to meet California’s dire need for more housing.